1701158212 40 years after the plane crash that killed Jorge Ibarguengoitia

40 years after the plane crash that killed Jorge Ibargüengoitia: “It’s like the missing link of Latin American culture”

At dawn on November 27, 40 years ago, an Avianca airline plane crashed over the municipality of Mejorada del Campo, about 29 kilometers from Madrid. The tragedy, whose details and victims have been largely forgotten, not only killed 181 of the 192 people who had left the city of Paris en route to Colombia – with a planned stopover in the Spanish capital that could not have taken place – it ended also the lives of some of the most brilliant and promising minds of the time for the cultural and artistic life of Latin America: the Mexican writer Jorge Ibargüengiotia, the Peruvian Manuel Scorza, the Argentinian Marta Traba and her husband, the Uruguayan Ángel Rama. The Mexican poet Amaranta Caballero saved a piece of memory of this event in her book Olafo y Los Amigos. Jorge Ibargüengoitia and the Avianca plane crash in 1983, which can be seen as the beginning of the historical rescue of a key moment for the literary and artistic future of the entire region.

Cover of the book “Olafo and his friends” at the Guadalajara International Book Fair.Cover of the book “Olafo and his friends” at the Guadalajara International Book Fair.Roberto Antillón

After the tragedy, many years had to pass for a poet and multidisciplinary artist like Caballero Prado, originally from Ibargüengoitia, in the state of Guanajuato, and a Spanish journalist like Arturo Lezcano, before they surprisingly learned that they were the only people in the world to whom this happened had been interested. Parallel to the plane accident in Mejorada del Campo in 1983.

It was 2021 when Caballero wrote an email to Lezcano to inform him that he was working on compiling several texts that would form a book about the events. By then, three years had passed since the premiere of the narrative podcast created by Lezcano entitled Olafo. This now legendary name was the name of the Boeing 747 jumbo, of which there were very few in the world – so they got their own name.

From both sides of the Atlantic and without knowing it, Lezcano and Caballero were working simultaneously in 2018 to find the (almost non-existent) records of the accident. Lezcano was driven by the journalistic impulse to recount several tragedies in Spain in what he considered a crucial and dizzying year for his country. He examined the events in detail and made them part of his book Madrid, 1983. When everything accelerates (Libros del KO, 2021) . “This accident is like the missing link in Latin American culture or literature. It is not in vain that they die there, and they could well have been Gabo, Cortázar and Vargas Llosa, because they all go to the first Hispanic-American cultural convention that was supposed to take place and was also held with a “One minute of silence. , the next day in Bogotá,” he says excitedly.

Amaranta Caballero and Arturo Lezcano present the book “Olafo y Los Amigos” this Monday at FIL Guadalajara.Amaranta Caballero and Arturo Lezcano present the book “Olafo y Los Amigos” this Monday at FIL Guadalajara. Roberto Antillon

For Amaranta Caballero, one of the saddest things about this episode is not only the deaths of so many people without the tragedy causing any uproar or turmoil at all, but also the constant anonymity to which the victims were condemned for so many years and which He maintains It is even worse that such important figures in their artistic field (including the Catalan pianist Rosa Sabater) as Ibargüengoitia, Scorza, Traba and Rama do not even deserve a mention of the date and place of his work on the cover of some of their books beyond death.

“It seems to me that it is necessary to revive the dialogue with the work history of each of these intellectuals, because at the time they were the intellectuals, artists who were between 50 and 55 years old, in a period of professional growth, and unfortunately it is taking a bracket in the air gone. “They leave a very big gap in Latin America and I asked myself why no one cared about this before?” he says.

Of the 192 people who traveled on that plane, 11 survived. The investigations of Caballero and Lezcano complement each other and open an episode that history had denied to those intellectuals whose promise of artistic creation and creation could have been, in the opinion of both authors marked an important turning point for Latin American literature.

Olafo and Los Amigos (Ediciones La Rana, 2022) contains texts by authors such as Eduardo Padilla from Guanajuato, the Peruvian-Chilean Dnaiel Rojas Pachas, the Mexican Carlos Ulises Mata, Scherezade Bigdalí, Ricardo García Muñoz, Pedro Mena Bermúdez, Flor Aguilera and Flor Bosco and Leonardo Iván Martínez, with an introduction by Arturo Lezcano and the poem Boarding Pass by a prolific Mexican poet and creator and one of Ibargüengoitia’s closest friends: Margarita Villaseñor.

Premonitions of death

Like everything that has happened since Lezcano and Caballero learned they were conducting much of the same investigation, the details put together by both trace a path that borders on that of a fictional story. Marta Traba, Lezcano said, had written a novel in which the ending tells how the protagonist gets on a plane with other Latin Americans and begins to fall asleep when it takes off. He himself also said that after one of his daughters contacted Scorza’s heirs, she told him about a call from his father who asked him to write down a series of names and numbers and later send him a letter with instructions. The letter arrived after Scorza’s death and contained information about some debts that needed to be paid.

And on the other hand, Ibargüengoitia, who, as the authors claim, has written in several opinion columns in the newspaper Excélsior questions and reflections on what would happen in certain situations that would inevitably end in an air disaster.

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